How To Prevent Your Racist Grandpa From Making Christmas Dinner The Most Awkward Meal Ever

We all have someone in our family who doesn't understand that it's 2014 and their outdated ideas of entire communities of people should probably expire. But trying to convert out-of-touch people into model humans at Christmas dinner is a one-way ticket to awkward silence or yelling-past-each-other mode.

My coworker Franchesca Ramsey decided to help you with a strategy to make the holiday less bad. Just remember, as she says, "Around the dinner table isn't time for Social Justice 101."


For those who can't watch, I've included them below the video, from least effective to most.

1. Try SARCASM! Pros: You feel better about yourself, and a few relatives might get an awkward laugh. Cons: Nobody learns anything, and then dessert is a little aaaawkward.

2. Try STATISTICS! Pros: People learn something and you feel better about yourself. Cons: The out-of-touch person doesn't learn anything, and then dessert is a little more aaaawkward.

3. Try SMACKDOWNS! Pros: People raise their fists in the air, you feel better about yourself (as do others), and a few relatives get some closure because someone finally said something. Cons: Dessert is way awkward but empowering.

4. Try FEIGNING CONFUSION! Pros: It's a stealthy way of pulling a smackdown without people realizing it. The perpetrator might learn to think before they speak. Cons: Dessert may still be kinda awkward.

5. Try BEING HONEST! Pros: There won't be any more race jokes, and everyone will applaud your grace and maturity in a tense situation. Dessert will not be awkward. Cons: The next two minutes will be awkward. But it's going to be OK.

Trying to convert people at the dinner table to your line of thinking will probably end badly and defensively. But talking to them in private and thoughtfully laying out why it might not be a great idea to say awful things could end in a grown-up discussion. Which, frankly, all of us could use more of.

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When Molly Reeser was a student at Michigan State University, she took a job mucking horse stalls to help pay for classes. While she was there, she met a 10-year-old girl named Casey, who was being treated for cancer, and — because both were animal lovers — they became fast friends.

Two years later, Casey died of cancer.

"Everyone at the barn wanted to do something to honor her memory," Molly remembers. A lot of suggestions were thrown out, but Molly knew that there was a bigger, more enduring way to do it.

"I saw firsthand how horses helped Casey and her family escape from the difficult and terrifying times they were enduring. I knew that there must be other families who could benefit from horses in the way she and her family had."

Molly approached the barn owners and asked if they would be open to letting her hold a one-day event. She wanted to bring pediatric cancer patients to the farm, where they could enjoy the horses and peaceful setting. They agreed, and with the help of her closest friends and the "emergency" credit card her parents had given her, Molly created her first Camp Casey. She worked with the local hospital where Casey had been a patient and invited 20 patients, their siblings and their parents.

The event was a huge success — and it was originally meant to be just that: a one-day thing. But, Molly says, "I believe Casey had other plans."

One week after the event, Molly received a letter from a five-year-old boy who had brain cancer. He had been at Camp Casey and said it was "the best day of his life."

"[After that], I knew that we had to pull it off again," Molly says. And they did. Every month for the next few years, they threw a Camp Casey. And when Molly graduated, she did the most terrifying thing she had ever done and told her parents that she would be waitressing for a year to see if it might be possible to turn Camp Casey into an actual nonprofit organization. That year of waitressing turned into six, but in the end she was able to pull it off: by 2010, Camp Casey became a non-profit with a paid staff.

"I am grateful for all the ways I've experienced good luck in my life and, therefore, I believe I have a responsibility to give back. It brings me tremendous joy to see people, animals, or things coming together to create goodness in a world that can often be filled with hardships."

Camp Casey serves 1500 children under the age of 18 each year in Michigan. "The organization looks different than when it started," Molly says. "We now operate four cost-free programs that bring accessible horseback riding and recreational services to children with cancer, sickle cell disease, and other life-threatening illnesses."

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